The Desperate Fight Within Disabled Campaigning

This is my first post in a few months, there’s been several reasons for this including an horrendous bout of depression, an operation and masses of work for DEAEP, our new course starts next week. There also been one issue that has taken over what little energy I’ve had left after this; a month ago I was asked if I’d be interested in working on the setting up of a unifying group for disabled people to fight the Government.

Anyone that’s read my blogs is well aware I’m committed to collective working and collaboration, most of my posts end with some form of plea for Unity or Togetherness, so of course I said yes. To my horror, in this very short period of time several of those willing to do the backroom work have been bullied and verbally assaulted by the same people who purport to believe in campaigning and challenging for our rights. So much so, that a number of the individuals willing to use their spare energy have said they can no longer continue; I simply do not understand this!

What the Fuck is going on, when those of us Fighting for our lives under this Tory regime of Austerity and Cuts, are attacked by our peers; isn’t it enough that people are dying through the bullying of JobCentre & other DWP staff, without resorting to this behaviour ourselves?

When #homelessness is soaring and people are being evicted from their homes due to the costs of the #BedroomTax, or the #BenefitCap; when the loss of ESA or PIP, through flawed and biased ‘assessments is causing people to choose to stay warm or fed; what will happen to those on #ILF that lose their Care packages in 3 weeks? Isn’t all of this this enough to make people angry enough to challenge the Government and to work WITH their peers and not attack them?

I totally agree that different opinions are essential for any project to get off the ground, and this means different beliefs being aired and people feeling frustrated their thoughts aren’t being taken into account; I’m aware not everyone feels a unifying organisation is the way forward and that’s fine. I recognise the pressure we are ALL under and realise that sometimes we say things we might not mean, I also acknowledge that on social media, the words we write can often come across as something different to what we actually meant but…this is NOT what happened here; this was selective Bullying. People were reading derogatory comments and joining in, it was made Personal, through targeted attacks on individuals; all who have been involving in online campaigning for the past 4 years at least. If this behaviour had happened on the street and from a group of non-disabled people, many of us would be, (rightly in my book) shouting about Hate Crime; this is how serious I take what has has occurred.

The outcome is not only, have the abused individuals felt the need to leave the unifying group, several have left the world of disability activism completely; and what a loss! All that knowledge and experience held by these individuals, lost from campaigning and no longer available to work on the real Fight.

To close, I want to state some of us are continuing to work on developing a unifying project for disabled people, a group that can challenge the Government with authority; but it is with great sadness that not only will the work be much more difficult without the lost expertise, but that we’ve lost true campaigners to bullying from within.

I hope that those involved in these abusive attacks realise the damage they’ve caused, not only to the individual victims of their abuse but to the disabled movement; remember when our enemies see this behaviour it only serves to further their cause.

ONLY TOGETHER CAN WE FIGHT FOR OUR SURVIVAL

What NOW? #TogetherWeCan

There’s seemingly no end of blogs about WHY the Tories ended up back in Government; there also many many posts on social media discussing how disabled people are going to survive when the next round of Welfare Cuts come in; here’s my view…

At the time of writing we don’t yet know Who will be the Work & Pensions Minister, we do now that #McVey, in maybe the only good news of the election, being deselected won’t be there, and Mark Harper has gone as the Minister for disabled people but as for the others, we’ll have to wait?  What I believe is no matter WHO fills their seats (and that of #IDS of course) things will not get any better.

I was SICK of the whole Carbuncle of Welfare Reform before May 7 – now we await with trepidation the announcements of the next round of proposed £12Million of Cuts; we’ve already read of the possible taxation of disabled benefits and making it harder for sick people to claim state aid by introducing “stricter” fit-for-work tests and/or tighter limits on eligibility, what’s next remains as yet unknown.

What I am convinced of is it is time now for ALL of us affected by the discriminatory actions of the Tories, to come together and Fight Back in Unity; we must ensure that whatever campaigns, petitions, demos etc work collectively to complement each other in the Battle for Survival under a Tory Government.

I believe it is time to TALK, for disabled organisations, social media groups, local projects etc, to communicate and work collaboratively; I’m not suggesting we all have to use the same approaches or methods but…we DO have to ensure we support the campaigns of others. Imagine if every Demo was coordinated across the UK – just as we did with ATOS? We KNOW this works and this is why I’m pleading with ALL groups leaders to do this; think -TOGETHER  a petition with ELEVEN MILLION signatures could Not be Ignored?

Then consider what would happen if WE worked with all other discriminated Groups – We’d be Unstoppable

What do you think??        #TogetherWeCan

#UKIP ally believes we disabled are contagious

The content of Tom Pride’s excellent post has enraged me enough to actually write; I’ve been away from the computer after a nasty fall which left me virtually unable to use the keyboard for almost a month. This in turn aggravated my Depression; ergo I’ve been quiet, but reading that a friend and ally of the vile little excuse for a man Farage, thinks “disability an “epidemic” infuriated me enough to blog.

Epidemic is defined by Collins as:

adjective

  1. (esp of a disease) attacking or affecting many persons simultaneously in a community or area

noun

  1. a widespread occurrence of a disease   ⇒ an influenza epidemic
  2. a rapid development, spread, or growth of something, esp something unpleasant;

This clearly suggests the leader of the Polish “New Right” Party Janusz Korwin-Mikke, views us disabled people as being contagious, and that we are all out to spread our various “impairment of normal physiological functions” like a plague; infecting the regular ‘normal’ people , we come into contact with.

These comments occurred after the paralympics in 2012, along with further equally noxious opinions such as the lack of African teams indicated our “epidemic” hadn’t yet reached this continent resulting in “the blacks will soon conquer the world and slaughter us“; ‘us’ presumably being the Rich White Man.

Given this I propose we pestilent disabled, unite with our black comrades to remove these psychotic Fascists, and rather than slaughter them, remove them to some safe place where they can undergo the psychiatric therapies they desperately need.

Read Tom’s piece to here for more justification of my suggestion.

Hope, whilst IDS Lies continue to Persecute the Poor

In this my last post before the festivities kick in I want to take a look at a quick overview of the Truth Campaign and our reasons for pursuing it.

It all began on April 14 2013, when Debbie Sayers and I wrote an open letter, to Esther McVey regarding her persistent misuse of facts and statistics, we sent this with over 800 signatures, including 4 MPs, a month later. On the back of this, we started our first petition (27/5/13) to the Work & Pensions Committee demanding they :Hold IDS to account for his use of statistics.

We eventually received a response from the DWP correspondence team to our letter, which failed to even acknowledge the questions we had asked, but she did reply to Michael Meacher  and Tim Loughton MPs, who had supported our letter with the same reply.

By June 12 our first petition had hit the magic 100,000 signatures, and between then and November, we played tag with IDS as he kept hiding from the Select Committee, missing him when we submitted our petition in November to Liz Kendall & Kate Green MPs; but eventually on December 11 2013 he ran out of excuses to attend.

After a long break,  it was in May this year Debbie & I decided to start stage 2 of our campaign, particularly in response to the Governments response to the recommendations of 3rd report from Work & Pensions select committee – use of DWP statistics; and this determined our next steps.

As today sees the nights slowly begin to shorten again, and the festive season is here, with its expectations of happiness and hope; it seems an optimum time to revisit our journey so far. It is especially pertinent as these feelings are irreconcilable with the ever growing tales of horror, resulting from the DWP’s and indeed Governments false Austerity Agenda, and the ongoing persecution of the poorest, most vulnerable people in our society.

Debbie and I are both committed to what we see as a marathon and not a sprint, we have cruised past the first check point and now feel we have ‘hit the wall’ as athletes call it, that time when you wonder if you can continue. But we will, because we as JRF said “our current Welfare system doesn’t work; we refuse to become ‘victims’ of  the Lies IDS tell to Parliament , as do the supporters of our Thunderclap and the signatures so far on our petition.

If you share our outrage at the injustices forced upon disabled, unemployed, vulnerable people, please sign, support  and SHARE the story of the TRUTH Campaign and together in 2015 the people will Demand IDS is Investigated for his Lies and for the Damage done by them.

This is OUR Wish for Christmas, Yuletide and most importantly for Justice & TRUTH.

#ImpeachDWP #TRUTHCampaign #IDSTimeForTRUTH #NOWPetition

Political Fury and Personal Responsibility

Once again I’m finding it difficult to sit down and write, I’m finding myself inundated with the appalling tales of life in the UK today; this week I’ve internally wept (there is a reason why only internally, but that is a tale for another day) as I read of IDS laughing  as a rape victim was forced to defend her right to feel safe in her own home as it was debated a PMQ. I Squealed when the DWP refuted hard evidence of people using foodbanks due to Benefit issues and this fury continued as the blogs I follow come in to my inbox daily with stories of people suffering or even dying.

Today we all got up to, unless of you stayed up to watch,  the news the UKIP have their second MP. I freely admit  I have a problem with this; I really do not understand why anyone would want a Government of a) the same as now but worse or b) a Right Wing Government many of our grandparents went to war to fight?

Why oh Why are people, often those detrimentally affected by the Policies and behaviour of the Coalition, not supporting the fight back?

As l regular readers will know I’ve spent my life, campaigning against injustice, prejudice and discrimination; I’ve also been responsible along with Debbie Sayers for the #TruthCampaign –  our efforts to have Iain Duncan Smith forced to answer for the discriminatory Policies of the Welfare Reform Act.

Last year over 500.000 people signed to have him held to account by the select committee, and he was; now we want more we are demanding Kathryn Hudson, the Parliamentary Commissioner For Standards,  investigate him for persistently misleading both Parliament and the Public, But…for some reason getting the signatures is proving problematic, I’m unsure if it is because people don’t get why it is important,  they think its not worth doing or they just aren’t bothered?

Whatever the reasons people are not signing IDS – TIME TO STOP THE LIES, I will keep pushing; I believe, an investigation of IDS would prove a catalyst for ensuring both the Tories and Labour to rethink their proposals for their Election Manifesto. If we can show Ministers will be held personally responsible for the fallout of  discriminatory, unfair and downright deadly Policies, I doubt they’d be as keen to continue to blame us.

If you agree with anything here, please continue to share our petition and let’s take some our of power  back.

Sign Up to the #TruthCampaign  Tweet #IDSTimeForTruth

Here We Go Again – DWP to Repeat the ATOS Disaster ?

I’m sure I’m not alone in being totally unsurprised, albeit sick to my stomach at the latest revelation to be leaked from Tory proposals for Benefits, the drastic cutting of  ESA; it appears that new claimants placed in  WRAG will only receive 50 pence a week more than JSA. This has led me to wonder if this extreme reduction has anything to do with the increase in the number of people claiming out of work sickness or disability benefits?

The fact the cut was ‘leaked’ on the same day, and to the same source as the claim, Maximus will be the company taking over the contract from ATOS, also leaves me unsurprised. I can imagine the key players from DWP and Maximus sitting around the table and plotting this decimation of ESA as a part of the contract. The key aim of Welfare Reform has always been to slash Benefits, irrespective of need, and now seemingly wants to privatise all out of work benefits; therefore given Maximus’ existing  involvement in running the Work Programme, and the new Health and Work programme  this pairing seems a perfect match.

However when John Pring initially suggested, Maximus was the preferred bidder to replace ATOS, he also revealed the company’s “chilling” record of incompetence, discrimination and alleged fraud“. Thinking back to when ATOS was initially awarded the contract for WCAs, there were similar concerns around the unsuitability of ATOS, and we all know the outcome of that appointment.

It appears the DWP have completely failed to learn from the ATOS debacle and is planning to enter into another disastrous contract with a seemingly corrupt company, all for Corporate Greed.  Further the DWP seems to be continuing the rhetoric of  blaming us being ill; refusing to acknowledge their attacks on poorest and most vulnerable people through both the continuing  scapegoating and their discriminatory Policies, are in any way responsible.

The ‘leaking’ of these two announcements today suggest the DWP are maintaining their insidious behaviour, softly ensuring their plans emerge into the public psyche in an attempt to build public support:

‘the poorest people are choosing the higher paying benefit to avoid looking for work, because  they are lazy, the DWP are doing the majority a favour by stopping these idlers take the easy option, and are bringing in a company who will stamp this out’

What can we can fight back against this? Johnny Void suggests we gather the information necessary to take Maximus out of the picture and I agree; but I also believe we need to demonstrate WHY sick and disable people need the extra money to survive, lets collect your stories that demonstrates precisely what we do with the difference between JSA and ESA, because if we don’t – We Will Lose it!

 

DWP Breaks its Own Rules when threatening Support Group Members

Further to my post earlier this week, today another example of the most seriously ill disabled people being told they must attend work focussed interviews or else be sanctioned; never mind this is in direct conflict with the DWP’s own guidance which states :

Support Group

If you have a condition that severely limits what you can do, you’ll be in the support group. You’ll not be expected to look for work and we won’t expect you to take place in any work-focussed interviews”.

How the DWP are going to Spin this is yet yo been seen; what I do know is this is yet another time this unelected Government has deliberately broke it’s own rules and then Lied about it!

This ongoing Discriniation against Disabled People is  Totally Unacceptable & I can only hope people say ENOUGH

It is Time to Join the Truth Campaign and Sign the Petition  to STOP The SPIN.

#NOWPetition #Impeach DWP

The Government Denies DWP Lies…YET…here are MORE “Lies and Damn Lies”

The Government has responded to the W&P Select Committee’s investigation of performance of the Department for Work and Pensions in 2012-13 – and as we expected the Government’s response is full of rhetoric of how well the DWP is doing and focus on the range of processes to ensure their Statistics are always good.

These include

Select Recommendation –  needs to exercise care in the language used in accompanying press releases and ministerial comments in the media. 2013 saw heightened and quite widespread concern—including from the UK Statistics Authority and organisations representing disabled people—about the DWP commentary accompanying releases of benefits statistics

Response – DWP is : is very careful about the language used when referring to benefit claimants, making clear that it is the system itself that has for too long trapped people into a life of welfare dependency. That is why this Government is making such a radical overhaul of the benefits system, to restore integrity and ensure that everyone who needs help and support receives it….statistical releases are produced and published separately to and independently from other Departmental comment or publications. Great care is taken by our statisticians to ensure the statistical releases are easy to read and understand, and are balanced and impartial….Training courses have also been run for Press Office staff, together with guidance having been issued on the use of statistics… ensure ministerial and official public statements are accompanied, whenever possible, by the released data and/or a link to the statistical release to which the press release refers. These statements are cleared with the relevant analysts for their statistical integrity.

And on it goes, defended the DWP and denying its ministers ever use inaccurate or false statistics.

The day after despite all the hype we learnt IDS & McVey are staying in control of the DWP, we witness another set of “Lies, damn lies and failing DWP bedroom tax report“.  Joe Halewood  in this excellent post, which I strongly suggest you read points out “On the same day as the cabinet reshuffle the DWP released a 163-page interim report into the bedroom tax.  Unfortunately this deliberate burial of a report is the best that can be said for it as it really is that bad“. He continues to identify major errors both in the writing of the report and a number of lies contained within it

For me this situation demonstrates precisely WHY we must continue to demand this Government deal with this situation, as despite the official response to the Select…the position remains the same. People from minority and oppressed communities are increasingly being blamed for the state of the nation; whilst Government continues to not only perpetuate this with their Lies but also through denying any responsibility or fault.

For thiese reasons, please keep sharing the #NOWPetition and show the Government WE the People WILL scrutinise them and we WILL Demand our RIGHTS to the TRUTH

Thanks all

 TRUTHCampaign #NOWPetition #ImpeachDWP

Real Issues with Welfare reform – Part II

On April 8 I wrote my first official DEAEP Blog, regarding the support we offer, this week Alex & I attended his Tribunal. we arrived at the venue, in a central hotel, to find the tribunal receptionist was extremely chatty; he happily informed the room that there were people from all over the UK, booked to attend, he went on to state every one of the claimants had waited for well over a year to get a hearing! He also informed us that for the day the Tribunal service had paid for 6 meeting rooms –  for hearings, waiting rooms and a room for the court clerks; add the expense for this to the salaries of at least 6 panellists (possibly 8), 3 clerks and the receptionist; and I shudder to think how much this must have cost?!

We were called in on time and given that the DWP had already agreed that Alex should be in the Support group in February 2013, we were expecting this to be a open & shut case but…NO. Firstly the DWP had failed to inform the panel they had AGREED they’d made a mistake, luckily the accepted the letter we had as full evidence; however instead of recognising that the DWP had already accepted Alex was too ill to work, and therefore he had every right to receive the back pay, the judge of the panel grilled Alex for 45 minutes on his inability to work in November 2012. We were made to explain, against each of the ESA qualifying points, that how for a whole 3 months, before the DWP agreed Alex’s health made him unable to work, this was the case. The Dr on the panel on at least four occasions referred to how, in his medical opinion, Alex’s handwriting on the appeal letter clearly indicated Parkinsons, as did his observation of Alex’s body; but the judge persisted in her questions, reducing Alex to tears on one occasion! Why was this – for MONEY – and for a far less amount than the 2 panellists earned in hour we were in there, never mind the the costs of the day’s Tribunal as outlined above; but for an amount that means Alex can afford to live a little more comfortably.

The good news is Alex WON his tribunal but…surely as the DWP had already conceded, wouldn’t it have been far more cost effective, never mind humane, for them to have merely paid him the money he was owed? According to Channel 4 Employment and support allowance (ESA) tribunals cost the taxpayer £66m in 2012/13, and this fails to consider the hidden costs of anxiety and stress to the claimant, both personally and in terms of the Health/support services, consider all of this and what a ludicrous situation this proves to be.

I don’t presume Alex’s case to be unique and given the number of successful tribunals by sick and, or disabled people, this is yet more evidence the current ESA/WCA process is severely flawed.

 

 

 

Attending ATOS? WE Can Help – Update

As many of you are aware from the original post, I am the founding director of Disability Enabling and Empowerment Project (Leic’s) (DEAEP); this project came about from a discussion I had with my daughter and my best friend (both disabled) regarding how we three would manage to get through the ESA/DLA assessments and other such troubling appointments, without the mutual support of each other.

Currently we have written all the paperwork necessary to run a 10 week part time course, and have been desperately trying to find a venue to pilot this in Leicester, thanks to Unite community this is likely to start mid April ; we’re also investigating how we could offer the same as an on-line course. The course will be free for anyone willing to then, pass on the skills by supporting others through the trials of assessment or other similar stressful situations.

Like everything else, in this greedy age we currently live in, we’re unable to source funding for this Social Enterprise; despite the fact we’re contacted almost daily by disabled people struggling to get through. Therefore we’ve decided to take a chance on you.

From this post we’re looking for similar minded people who are willing to help us make the on-line option a reality. Are you brave enough to commit to meet with me on-line for three hours a week (day to be confirmed) and trial our course;  unfortunately this will have to be on wiggio.com & via email and there is currently no accreditation for this due to the cost. Having a proven pilot completed will give us the data and evidence we need to submit funding applications, potentially allowing us to gain accreditation and buy the suitable website to make this a reality.

If you are share our belief that we disable/vulnerable can help ourselves deal with the stress of ATOS/CAPITA etc. by passing on skills; and are seriously interested in either joining us at Unite. or to work with me on-line, please respond to either to this post or via our website by Friday 1 February.

I’m looking forward to all your replies 🙂 xx